Cowboy Dances

A collection of Traditional Western Square Dances By Lloyd Shaw

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When many sets are dancing by themselves for the pure enjoyment of the dance (the only real justification, after all) they may prefer a slow and easy tempo. And they will, of course, want to do each dance completely, each couple takĀ­ing its turn at leading each figure. But this is deadly to watch. The first time through is interesting; the second repetition may help you in your better understanding of the figure, but the third and fourth repetitions drag until from an audience's point of view they are almost unbearable. And if, as often happens in a contest, some other set uses the same call and drags through it all again for four more times, it is almost beyond audience endurance.
Often at a contest the judges are old dancers themselves, and they somehow feel that it isn't a real dance unless it repeats itself through the full four times, and in loyalty to the past they will sit through it even if it kills them. But I believe and have often urged, without much avail, that if each couple were called out on a brand-new call it would not only give the variety of four different changes but would be a much better test of the ability of both the caller and the dancers. The weight of tradition says, "No!" However, when you are exhibiting you wish to make the thing you exhibit as attractive as possible. There is no one to say you nay, and I feel you should speed it up and give as many samples of the square dance as your time will permit. A few old-timers, with a loyalty to their past, may object, but I believe even they will enjoy the program more in spite of (or perhaps because of) their objections.
Indeed, a group of young dancers in a private dance of their own enjoy and even beg for a change of call for each couple, even when there is no audience. I believe that it is good to indulge them now and then. It takes four times as much memory and four times as much ingenuity to carry a whole evening through that way, but the caller's job is to give the very maximum of enjoyment to the group he has before him on the floor.
Little Children
One last word! Please do not teach these dances to little children. Grade-school pupils may enjoy them but it will mark the dances forever in your community with the stigma of "kid stuff." Well-meaning gymnasium teachers have